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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 14. 1966.

Commission proves Mr Shand wrong

page 6

Commission proves Mr Shand wrong

NZSPA Political Reporter

Wellington — While Auckland University students may feel the Commission of inquiry whitewashed the Godfrey affair, they have some cause for cheer. Certain National MPS are also unhappy with the failure of Sir Douglas Hutchison to back up some of their accusations in his report.

The Hon T. P. Shand heads this list. Leaping in to discuss matters totally unconnected with his portfolios of Labour, Mines and Immigration, he made some intemperate charges in Parliament which may have been actionable if spoken outside the House.

Chief targets of his outbursts were the students and staff of the university's Political Studies Department. But the report has flatly refuted some of his more flamboyant claims.

Similar allegations levelled by Truth later led Professor Robert Chapman to seek legal advice and, although the report. made no reference to the Parliamentary debate, Mr. Shand could find his remarks a rod ideally suited for Labour use on him in the election campaign.

Like the students, he and some of his colleagues are dissatisfied with Sir Douglas's investigation and interpretstion of the facts—but for totally different reasons.

Mr. Shand's remarks are' recorded in Hansard. For example:

"Auckland University radicals set out brutally, consistently and with malice aforethought to ruin Mr. Godfrey's career."

Said the report: "The feeling of students that led to these (Outspoke's) attacks was brought about by a fear that their futures might be adversely affected by his presence at the university and by reports he might make on them and, in particular, on what they might say in class.

"This was an unfounded fear, but an understandable one, having regard to their ignorance as to the working of the security service."

Censuring Outspoke's errors of fact, the spread of rumours and the behaviour of students who demonstrated against Security officer David Godfrey. Sir Douglas concluded: "Under all the circumstances, the words 'conspired against' and victimised' are too strong to apply to those responsible for these matters."

Mr. Shand had gone further, however. Recalling that the Vice-chancellor (Mr. K. J. Maidment) had earlier ruled Mr. Godfrey should be allowed to continue studies, the Minister told Parliament:

"Then Professor Chapman came in and said, 'I don't care what the vice-chancellor said."

He told the young man he would not have him in his classes...

"... Mr. Godfrey was banned from university because his presence is offensive to Professor Chapman, Dr. Ruth Butterworth and other members of the political science staff and to the handful of students they have incited," said the Minister.

Sir Douglas differed, He said the professor had acted in the best interest, as he saw it, of the university and the Security officer. "In my opinion, there is no ground for criticism of his conduct," he added.

Opinions varied sharply on Dr. Butterworth's part. Going further than the Minister. Mr. W. A. Sheat. MP for Egmont, charged she had deliberately opened the doors of the Political Studies building to let in the student "rioters."

But Sir Douglas said she was leaving the department, loaded up with parcels, at a time when there were only four Students in sight. One of them went through the half-open door behind her. "On that evidence I cannot and do not find she was an intentional party to the entry of members of the demonstration."

Mr. Shand had charged that she and the professor had had advance knowledge of the "riot at the University."

The Minister's charges extended to the university administration. "Having done their best to expose Mr. Godfrey to notoriety, they (the "radicals") demanded — and the university authorities had given their supine consent— that he be dismissed."

The report disagreed. "The decision was probably the best one that could be made under. all the circumstances. It had the effect, in any event, of closing the matter down, and on the whole, I am not inclined to challenge the Eroprtety of it," said Sir Douglas.

The report also emphasised that Mr. Godfrey was not "dismissed" but merely offered private tuition to avert problems in the class. Sir Douglas felt this was as suitable educationally as class tuition and even recommended that Security officers taking classes should not carry out investigations at a university.

Discussing the motives of those opposed to Mr. Godfrey's presence, Sir Douglas noted that: "He was attacked, however, in his capacity as an officer of the Security Service. and not in his personal capacity."

Clearly, then, the conclusions drawn by Mr. Shand and the judical inquiry are at marked variance. And while there has been little stir over the report the rift cannot be anything other than an election godsend for the Opposition — particularly in Auckland.

It was the incisive attack of Auckland Labour MPS which led Mr. Shand to defend the Government so vehemently. Mr. R. J. Tizard, in particular, one who obviously lent his ear early on the Students' Association President (Mr. Richard Wood) will not be slow to capitalise on the advantage he has been given over Mr. Shand.

If the Minister's remarks to the House sprung from confidently-held views rather than political expediency, then he must patently feel Sir Douglas did not fully probe the affair and that the report had the aim of—in its own term—"closing the matter down." If so, his course would be to dissociate himself from its conclusions.

But the Government apparently regarded the idea of a judicial inquiry as an out—a way to clear up the affair painlessly. Any disclaimer by Mr. Shand would appear as censure of the solution so readily adopted by the Prime Minister (the Rt. Hon. Keith Holyoake).

Mr. Shand would, therefore, have strong restraint from above.

It nothing else was achieved, the Commission of Inquiry has landed the Minister of Labour with a dilemma he will relish little and have even less chance of resolving.